How Long Do Harnesses Last?

Just as you inspect your rope regularly for core shots and fuzz balls, make it a habit to examine your harness periodically—especially if you suspect any  damage has been done. A harness may last up to 10 years if well taken care of.

Here, a few things to consider:

  • Any excessive fraying or discoloration is a call for retirement. Store your harness away from direct sunlight in a cool, dry place, ideally in its supplied mesh bag. Just as you do with ropes, keep it away from sharp objects and corrosive substances (i.e., don’t leave it in the trunk of the car).
  • Check the buckles on your waist and leg loops for any signs of wear. Abrasive contact with rock can cause the buckles to erode, and any sharp edge created by erosion is grounds for a permanent sabbatical.
  • Many harnesses come with wear-mark indicators on the belay loop and tie-in points. The belay loop is the most critical piece of your rig. If the wear indicator is showing danger, toss the harness.
  • Check the bartacking and stitching. Some manufacturers recommend retiring if even one stitch is amiss.
  • After climbing at a dirty area, rinse off the harness. If the grunge is really caked in, hand-wash in warm water with a mild soap (no bleach) like PMI Rope Soap ($12.75, Rinse and air-dry away from direct sunlight. —Amanda Fox

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